Becoming a caregiver for your parents can feel strange and stressful at first: for so long, you were used to your parents taking care of you, and now it’s your turn to take care of them. Switching roles isn’t always easy, but with guidance and planning, you both can get familiar with your new roles. Today, we’ll provide some helpful tips on how to cope with aging parents yet still maintain stability and quality relationships.
Remember the things that will never change
Your parents will always see you as their child, and that’s something you can’t change. So, talking to them like you would talk to your children won’t help. You still need to treat them like your parents – talk to them with the respect they deserve and continue to do activities together like you normally would. You will just have to be a little more assertive to parents who are stubborn in their ways to get them to let you help them, but if you take it slowly and patiently, they will get used to it over time. Try starting with minor things like helping them with cleaning or fetching groceries, for example. When they see you as helpful instead of “bossy,” your relationship will be easier to manage due to their ability to better accept what is happening.
Make a plan
As your parents begin to lose independence and require more assistance, you may come across difficult circumstances where you are forced to make quick decisions without knowing if they are the right ones. Instead, create a plan that prepares you for your parents’ future needs. For example, understand what their health insurance covers, consult proper requirements for diet and exercise, and research how to address signs of depression or feelings of isolation. Being able to anticipate their needs can help you take better ensure their health and wellbeing.
Reach out for help
If you have siblings, family friends, or nurses who happen to be relatives, see if they can help you share some of the responsibilities. Many people are happy to lend a hand when you need a break. When you have a list of willing aids, sit down with a group of people beforehand and go over what is required, when they are available, and how they can help to make the process run more smoothly.
Ask your parents for advice
Nothing shows more respect than the very act of respecting boundaries. Your parents are going to find such a transition in roles as tricky as you, but your love for one another will help everyone see the best way forward. Try asking your parents for advice on how best to help them – more stubborn seniors will be harder to get information from but they will relent as you make it clear that you only want what’s best for them, and more accepting parents will be happy to chime in if it makes a difference. You can also ask for advice on things going on in your own personal life to make it clear that they are still highly valued and appreciated.
Give them options
There’s a difference between being proactive and overly strict, and your parents will pick up on this earlier than you will due to the wisdom that comes with age. Consider giving them options and enable for them to live their lives autonomously rather than strictly through your “rules.” After all, you don’t want them to resent your care strategy. Instead of giving orders, give options whenever possible to provide them with a deciding vote in their care and living situation.
Join a support group
It’s often exhausting both physically and emotionally coping with caring for ageing parents, but you don’t have to feel alone or isolated. There are others out there who know exactly what you are going through and can help you through those challenging times. By joining a support group, you can seek advice and find shoulders to lean on when you need it.
In addition to your personal life and career, taking care of a parent can feel overwhelming. To ensure you don’t burn out, remember to take enough time for yourself. Learn how to recognize the signs of caregiver stress – anger, depression, irritability, social isolation, sleep problems – and take time to get the rest and “me time” that you need. Make time every day for exercise and proper nutrition as well. If you find that you are struggling with self-care, talk to a counsellor for guidance. The better you are, the better you can care for your parents.
Caring for your parents can be stressful, but it can also be very rewarding. It takes a good amount of balance of attending to their needs and making sure your own are met, too. So, talk to a professional who can help guide you during this time. At Choice Homecare, we know what you’re going through and our experience in caring for hundreds of seniors can help you with all your caregiving needs. Reach out to us today.